Summary: So what can you do to begin to get rid of stress and worry with your finances? The first step…and the only one we’re going to consider today is this—put God first.
If you’ve been with us at Summit for any length of time, you’ve heard us say that God wants us to experience a life with him that’s full and robust…a life with meaning and purpose. A few months ago, our memory verse was John 10:10. Jesus is speaking and he says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Would repeat that with me? We see here one of the most encouraging promises that Jesus makes…he promises that we can experience a life with him that’s full and robust!
Now, in this text the thief refers to Satan. He’s the one who wants to rob us of a life that full and robust. And one of the most common ways that Satan steals our abundant life is through our finances. Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to experience the kind of full and robust life that Jesus offers when our finances are in disarray. This is why it’s so important to learn how to follow God’s guidelines when it comes to our resources. You’ve probably heard this before….but the Bible has more to say about managing money and possessions than it does about heaven, hell, prayer or almost any other topic you can think of.
Do you know why? Because nothing battles for our hearts as fiercely as money and possessions! This has always been true…but I think it’s even more true today than ever before. Think about it…all day long we are bombarded with advertisements which are designed to make us discontent so that we do what? Spend money!
Jay Walker-Smith is president of one of the nation’s largest marketing firms. He says that we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads per day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day. All day long on Facebook or Google or the radio or TV or billboards or magazines we are inundated with messages screaming at us to buy something, or to take a trip, or to eat out somewhere.
Because of this constant pressure to spend money, many of us get knocked off-balance and we end up not managing our finances very wisely. This is apparent from the following statistics I’ve seen recently:
• A few months ago an on-line group called GoBankingRates surveyed more than 7,000 Americans. They discovered that 69% of those surveyed had less than $1,000 in savings. Breaking it down even further they discovered that 34% of Americans don’t even have a dime in their savings account.
The study cited two main reasons for the chronic lack of saving: First, many people are living beyond their means because so much of our lives revolve around entertainment and other forms of discretionary spending. This shows you the success of the constant pressure from the media to spend, spend, spend. The second reason people don’t save is credit cards…which make it incredibly easy for us to spend money that we don’t have.
• Speaking of credit cards….I saw another study that revealed the households that carry a balance on their credit cards carry an average balance of $16,048. Perhaps some of us feel the weight of that credit card debt every single day! Now, you know as well as I do that credit cards generally charge up to 20% interest on the unpaid balance. So the interest alone on a $16,000 balance amounts to hundreds of dollars a month. And if you only make the minimum payments it could take decades to pay off. So, this is a huge problem!
• According to statistics provided by the US government, the total credit card debt in America is about $975 billion. Houston, do we have a problem? I think so!
• I saw another article that talked about how few Americas have been saving for retirement. The article indicated that 1/3 of Americans have saved absolutely nothing for retirement. 23% have less than $10,000 saved and 10% have between $10,000 and $49,000. That means over 50% of Americans have saved little or nothing for our later years. And yet, at the same time, we are living longer than ever. In 1955 the average American lived to be 69.6 years old but by 2012 that had risen to 78.8 years. And our life expectancy keeps rising! Many of us can expect to live into our 90’s and more and more of us will actually see 100!
So, I think you’d agree that many people, perhaps even some of us, have significant problems managing our money. Many of us have very little in savings, we spend more than we make using credit cards and we don’t save very much for retirement. And this creates enormous stress.
• Some of us lay awake at night and worry about money.